Standing Tall: Looking for more Vermont big tree champions!

April 12, 2024

Sycamore tree in Harmonyville

Spring has sprung and the Vermont Urban & Community Forestry Program is looking for more tree champions for the Vermont Big Tree List. This novelty list celebrates the largest known trees nominated in the state. 

Big tree enthusiasts send in nominations from across the state, hoping to score big and make the list. There are currently over 80 trees being tracked by the Vermont Big Tree Program, ranging from American beech and black ash to walnut and red oak. View the Vermont Big Tree list.

The Vermont Big Tree list was updated in 2021 to include photos and tree measurements. Many trees are privately owned and are not accessible to the public. Others are on publicly owned land and include more specific location information on how to access them on the map.

Not every tree species in Vermont has claimed its rightful place on the list just yet. Some are waiting for their moment in the spotlight. Notable species on the vacant list include eastern hemlock, star magnolia, and balsam fir. Check out the vacant species list here. 

The Vermont Big Tree Program uses American Forests’ formula to determine whether a tree is a champion. There are three measurements that are taken into consideration:

  • Circumference  in inches, taken 4.5 feet above the ground (unless root swell, low branches, or multiple stems require adjustment);
  • Height in feet, from the ground to the highest branch; and
  • Crown spread, averaged from the longest and shortest points across the tree's canopy.

The Vermont Big Tree lists trees that are single stem only. Sometimes it can be tricky to tell if a big tree is a single stem or several stems growing together. Check out the American Forests' Guidelines (page 14) for more information.

Think you've stumbled upon a big tree contender? Here's what you can do: measure its circumference at 4.5 feet above the ground and compare it to the existing champion. That's a big part of the scoring process, so it's a great way to gauge your tree's potential. If it's looking promising, fill out a Vermont Big Tree Nomination Form and send it in for verification. Nominations are accepted year-round; images are always helpful. Contact Gwen at or 802-656-7638 for more information.

Happy big tree hunting!

Note: The national big tree program is currently on pause as it is being transferred from American Forests to the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. Stay tuned as we help reinvigorate the national list and highlight Vermont champion trees!